The hacker behind the unauthorized access to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) data storage and theft of the W-2 details and personally identifiable information (PII) of around 65,000 UPMC workers has been presented with the maximum punishment for the violation and will be in prison for 7 years.
Sean Johnson, from Detroit, Michigan, otherwise known as TheDearthStar and Dearthy Star – hacked into the UPMC data bank in 2013 and 2014 and took highly sensitive details. Then he offered for sale the stolen information on dark web hacking sites. Identity thieves utilized the data to file bogus tax returns in the names of UPMC workers. The Department of Justice (DOJ) additionally alleged Johnson performed more cyberattacks between 2014 and 2017 and stole the PII of another 90,000 persons. Those sets of records were likewise marketed to identity thieves on dark web sites.
A total of $2.2 million fake tax returns were registered and approximately $1.7 million was paid out by the IRS. The money gotten were changed to Amazon gift cards and were utilized to order high-value merchandise that were transported to Venezuela.
Three co-collaborators of Johnson were detained and charged for their part in the UPMC attack. In August 2016, Cuban Yolandy Perex Llanes was deported to America. In April 2017, he pleaded guilty to doing cash laundering and aggravated identity theft. He also got sentenced to 6 months in jail in 2017.
In April 2017, Justin A. Tollefson from Spanaway, Washington pleaded guilty to committing four counts of utilizing the compromised identities of UPMC staff members to file fake tax returns. He had purchased the PII on a dark website and employed the information to submit bogus tax returns using the names of 4 UPMC staff. $56,333 was disbursed by the IRS in income tax refund amounts, nevertheless, Tollefson was busted before he had gotten any money. The judge was easygoing as Tollefson hadn’t profited from the theft and penalized him to three years of probation in 2017.
Maritza Maxima Soler Nodarse, a citizen of Venezuelan, pleaded guilty to doing conspiracy to deceive the United States in July 2017 for her part in the identity theft and tax fraud criminal acts. She was given a 16-month sentence in jail and was repatriated to Venezuela.
Johnson got the maximum sentence even after pleading guilty to the hacking offenses as a result of the degree of the offenses and the consequence they had on the victims. Chief United States District Judge Mark R, Hornak explained Johnson’s actions were dreadful to victims and his hacking work exhibited no consideration for them. “The actions of hackers just like Justin Johnson can have long-term and damaging consequences on innocent individuals.
Johnson was punished to spend 5 years in prison for the conspiracy to con the U.S. charge and a compulsory 2-year sentence for aggravated identity theft, with the sentences to go one after another.
The information stolen by Justin Johnson consists of the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and salary data of countless UPMC personnel. He sold that personal data on the dark website so that other scammers could additionally take advantage of his victims. Today’s sentence sends a dissuasive message that hacking has really serious penalties.